Dariba Kalan, Kohinoor of Delhi

Dariba Kalan, Kohinoor of Delhi

Incomparable Pearls

Dariba Kalan has been known as Asia’s largest bejewelled lane. Located in the heart of Chandni Chowk its history goes back 300 years. It lies guarded betw­een historical places such as the Digambar Jain temple and Gali Kazanchi.

Walking through one of the oldest lanes in the city, one does lose track of time. Standing in the midst of the gali one cannot ignore the rickshaws and cyclists paving their way through congested bylane with shouts of ‘jagah dena’ and ‘Haan-ji’ - when they want pedestrians to make way for them. 

Almost every shop here is at least 200 years old. Considered the hub of jewels, ornaments and mementos, Dariba is known for marcasite studded in silver, gold, kundan, polki and diamond jewellery. It is said that the princesses living during the reign of Shah Jahan often purchased gold and jems from Dariba. 

Satinder Jatin, a shop owner says, “Before Independence this place was very popular for jewellery and books. It is said that during the Mughal period, Badshah ki sawari would pass through this lane.” A tunnel used to pass from under Gali Kazanchi and all the way to Red Fort, where the traders met to sell and purchase gemstones and other ornaments.

Traditional jewellery designs can still be found in tiny, little shops. N L Malhotra, President, Dariba Sarafa Association says, that Dariba was filled with residents 60-70 years ago. “But now due to the space constraints most of them have shifted from here.

If there can be more parking facilities made available, the place could become more accessible for Dilliwallas.”

During 1940s, about 10 per cent of the market was jeweller-based and only five per cent of people were halwais and booksellers. Today, the same figure has multiplied by 30 per cent. 

If the place has little known names who have owned jewellery shops for generations here, it also boasts of brands like Janki Dass Jewellers who have been for over five generations. Known as the incomparable street of Pearl, Dariba is a fashionista’s paradise.  It is also home to Gulab Singh Johri Mal who are well-known for manufacturing and export of ittar (natural perfumes).

Dariba also boasts of manufacturers who deal in hand-crafted jewellery in both traditional and contemporary designs and is both a wholesale and retail mart - more so for silver. There is something for  everyone here, but it is best to avoid the trip on the weekends as Dariba gets very crowded.

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